A cat that needs constant attention and affection can quickly become overwhelming. We all love our pets, but also live busy lives. It can feel impossible to accommodate a difficult cat’s expectations while also fulfilling other work-related and family responsibilities.
Discourage your cat’s begging for attention by not reacting to her tactics. Cat training involves rewarding the behaviors you like and ignoring the behaviors that you dislike.
If this desire for attention seems to have come from nowhere, you need to consider the cause. If a cat’s behavior changed drastically all of a sudden, there will be a reason. Your pet may be in physical or emotional distress. This guide explains how to handle a demanding cat.
Cat Breeds That Need the Most Attention
Before cursing your cat for her neediness, you should know if it’s part of her nature. Some cat breeds require more attention than others. The most clingy cat breeds are as follows:
- Maine Coon
- Egyptian Mau
- Cornish Rex or Devon Rex
The following breeds of cat are among the most independent:
- Japanese or Kurilian Bobtail
- Norwegian Forest Cat
Naturally, there are exceptions to every rule. Cats are individuals. Some Siamese cats may be indifferent to human company, and some bobtails may demand constant affection.
How Much Attention Does a Cat Need?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to cats. Every feline has her own unique wants and needs.
Most cats will be happy enough with 20 minutes of focused, one-on-one attention per day. Your cat’s breed, age, energy levels, health, and temperament will all play a significant part.
Getting your cat into a strict routine is essential for managing her desire for attention. Cats do not flourish in an environment of chaos. They need to know what is happening, and when.
If your cat understands that she will be played with every day, she should begin to calm down. You need to hold up your end of this deal, though. That doesn’t just mean playing every day, but playing at the same time every day.
A cat that expects attention first thing in the morning grows anxious if it’s not forthcoming. The same applies to a cat that expects a playtime just before dinner.
Just because your cat doesn’t wear a wristwatch doesn’t mean that she’s not aware of time. She knows when to expect things that are important to her. It’s up to you to meet those expectations.
When life gets in the way, ask somebody to fill in. We can’t build our world around our pets. If you’re stuck in the office, get somebody else to feed and play with your cat.
If a cat’s needs are being met, she’ll accept it. She might prefer other people to step up, but she’ll cope. Completely chopping and changing a schedule is a strict no-no. That leads to an anxious and insecure cat, and these traits make for very needy pets.
How Do I Know if My Cat is Getting Enough Attention?
If your cat feels neglected, you’ll know about it. A cat that wants attention will perform many tasks to gain it. Classic signs of attention-seeking behavior in cats include:
- Continually scratching and kneading at you
- Following you around the house, often rubbing against your legs as you walk
- Breaking house rules, such as sitting on the furniture
- Eliminating outside the litter box
- Knocking things off tables
- Deliberately obstructing activities, such as lying on a laptop so you can’t type
- Hiding your personal effects
- Constant verbalization, even if there’s nothing to worry about.
If your cat behaves in any of these ways, she is trying to communicate with you. Spend more time with your cat and get her into a routine.
If the attention-seeking continues after this, your cat has crossed from demanding to needy. This is more problematic and you’ll need to identify the root of the behavior.
Needy Cat vs. Demanding Cat
There is a fine line between these two states:
- Demanding cats know what they want and expect it immediately.
- Needy cats are clingy for a reason. Usually, they are unwell or psychologically damaged.
A demanding cat is attempting to assert dominance over you. She is not interested in being trained. She wants to teach you.
Remember, no cat thinks of you as her master. Felines consider us their equals. A very demanding cat still knows that she cannot operate a can opener, though.
If you have a demanding cat, you’ll need to coach her out of this pushy behavior. This is done by ignoring any unwanted behavior and rewarding positive actions. If your cat meows loudly to demand affection, ignore her. It’s tough, but necessary.
She’ll grow weary and stop eventually, and then you can give her attention. Your cat will quickly realize that being quiet and patient earns more rewards than yelling.
A clingy cat needs to be treated differently. These cats are acting this way for a reason. If she’s sick or stressed, ignoring her pleas for help will make them worse.
The only way to know is through a process of elimination. Ensure that your cat isn’t feeling stressed by a change in routine.
Beyond this, you may need to see a vet. A physical check-up, including testing blood and urine, will reveal any potential illness.
If your pet is healthy and has no reason to be anxious, you can relax. She’s pushing her luck to see how much demanding behavior she can get away with.
You may have some trying times ahead as you train your cat, but it’s entirely fixable.
Why Is My Cat So Needy All of a Sudden?
If your cat is looking for more attention than usual, there will be a reason. Often, this is a mental or physical health concern.
Cats need structure and routine in their lives. Without it, they come incredibly anxious. Anxious cats can be awkward pets to have around the house.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to stress a cat out. As Mercola explains, cats have a lot of triggers. Aside from changes to their routine, these include:
- Changes to the home layout. If you move furniture, your cat will become discombobulated.
- Continually attempting to initiate unwanted physical contact. Your cat will tell you when she wants to be held or picked up.
- Ignoring a cat’s body language, expecting them to respond to verbal commands. Cats Protection explains feline body language in detail.
- Failing to clean up her litter box. Cats are clean and like to stay that way.
- Bringing new people (or pets) into the home. Cats like things exactly as they are. If somebody new arrives in a home, it takes time for a cat to readjust.
- If your house is noisy and busy, cats will need some time to themselves to cool off.
Felines are very sensitive animals. Indoor pets, in particular, are jittery and susceptible to change. This is why routine is so critical.
What if nothing has changed in your cat’s day-to-day life? If she has suddenly started to become clingy, she may be unwell physically.
Cats cannot explain to you that they’re in pain or unwell. In truth, they wouldn’t even if they could. Felines do not like showing weakness. They worry that another cat will start to dominate them.
All the same, a cat that is feeling unwell will be feeling vulnerable. This means that she will seek comfort. Cats know who will show them kindness.
My Older Cat is Suddenly Clingy
If an older cat becomes reluctant to leave your side, she’s increasingly likely to be unwell. A senior cat is often a sign of concern. Many older cats prefer to be left alone so they can rest.
Sometimes, simple wear and tear of age on the body makes senior cats feel vulnerable. It’s possible that your cat is losing her sight, hearing, or mobility.
These senses often leave a cat when she is well into double figures. Naturally, this will leave your pet feeling a little confused. She’ll want to be by your side as a result.
One potential explanation is also that your cat is starting to go senile. This condition, known as feline cognitive dysfunction, has similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
A cat with cognitive dysfunction will become clingy. This is because she is confused and is seeking reassurance from her owner that all is well. Unfortunately, these regular displays of affection are also dispersed by bouts of uncharacteristic, aggressive hostility.
As the ASPCA explains, other warning signs of cognitive dysfunction in your senior cat include:
- A reversed wake-sleep cycle, leading to your cat vocalizing at night and sleeping all day.
- Staring into space, or at a wall, for prolonged periods of time.
- Losing interest in eating, grooming, and playing.
- Getting lost and confused in familiar surroundings, even inside the home.
- Seemingly not recognizing human family members.
At the first sign of these symptoms, seek professional help. FCD cannot be cured, but it can be slowed down with medication when caught sufficiently early.
You should also keep your cat mentally engaged. Even just talking to them helps. Puzzles and games will slow down the degeneration of your cat’s faculties.
My Cat Wants to be Petted Constantly
A cat that wants constant affection can be troublesome to deal with. If she’s occupied with something else, you can’t stroke your cat.
The only option is to ignore your cat’s cries. It’s going to be hard as nobody wants their pet to be sad. Tough love is the only way, though.
Teach your cat that there is a time and a place for petting. For example, while you are sitting on the sofa. If your cat jumps in your lap, and you’re happy to do so, pet her. This tells your cat that sofa time is petting time.
As a result, your cat will start to expect to be petted whenever you’re together on the sofa. However, she will also learn that she won’t be petted while you’re standing in the kitchen.
My Cat Wants to Play Constantly
If your cat wants to play all the time, ask yourself if she has an appropriate routine. If a cat knows when its playtime is, she’ll usually wait for it.
If you do manage to be consistent, consider whether your cat’s environment is otherwise enriching. If your cat is bored all day, she’ll have a lot of energy.
Ensure that your cat is constantly mentally engaged, even if on her own. Offer a wide array of toys and several different scratching posts.
Your cat may also be struggling to embrace her hunting instincts. Former outdoor cats that are now inside all day, in particular, have trouble adapting.
Interactive play with your cat matters. Playtime will simulate the hunting experience. You may need to step up the time that you do spend with your cat.
You may consider getting a second cat, so your pet has a constant playmate. There are pros and cons. If you decide to get a second cat, ensure they are compatible in terms of temperament.
Is My Cat Being Affectionate Because They’re in Heat?
Another reason that cats suddenly become affectionate is that they’re in heat. If your cat is female and has never been spayed, this could be the explanation. Look out for these behaviors:
- Frequently stopping any movement and adopting the estrus position. This involves your cat placing her head on the floor and bottom in the air.
- Swelling around the reproductive organs. Your cat may start licking her genitals more than usual, too.
- Urinating and spraying outside the litter box. Your cat is advertising her presence to male cats.
- Yowling and crying to be let outside with increasing intensity.
The last of these actions is impossible to ignore or mistake. Until your cat is spayed, she will continue to have heat cycles.
If you cannot stand these behaviors, there is only one solution. A spayed cat will be much happier and healthier anyway.
My Cat is Restless and Meowing
If your cat will not settle and constantly meows, it wants something from you. It is unable to settle down until they get it. Unfortunately, they cannot explain what they want in words. This can be frustrating for your cat. You’ll have to work through a checklist until you find a solution:
- Is she hungry? Offer a treat.
- Is she thirsty? Refill her water bowl.
- Does she want attention? Offer her some light petting.
- Does she have too much energy? Play with her.
It’s also possible that your cat is just feeling under the weather and irritable.
My Cat Meows for Attention Then Runs Away
This seems like a counter-productive behavior in cats. She demands attention with a meow. You respond with what she seemingly wants. She then runs away. There are three possible explanations for this behavior:
- Your cat wants to draw your attention to something. Watch where she runs.
- Your cat is meowing and running because she wants you to chase her. It feels that tearing you away from what you’re doing will improve her chances of playtime.
- Your cat wants affection, but is unable or unwilling to receive it. This is common in traumatized rescue cats that have been mistreated.
Your cat wants to show you something is the most likely explanation for this behavior. Look at where your cat runs. Is it to her food bowl? You don’t need us to tell you what that means. Is it to her water? She is likely thirsty, but check if the water is contaminated.
If your cat guides you to her litter tray, check that it’s clean. She likely wants to eliminate, but smells previous deposits in there. If she shows you a window or door, your cat may want to go outside.
She may want you to chase her. If you have been spending hours at your laptop, your cat may feel neglected. She wants to tear you away from whatever she feels is taking up her rightful attention.
We have potential trauma, which is the toughest scenario to resolve. Your cat wants to feel loved, but can’t shake off bad memories of being touched.
This can become frustrating. However, the way through is perseverance. Once your cat has been exposed to physical touch sufficiently, she’ll grow to accept it.
Why Does My Cat Only Bother Me for Attention?
It can seem strange when a cat insists on receiving attention from one person in particular. While felines do choose a favorite person over all others, her choice can sometimes be odd.
Cats know who provides attention when asked. This is vital information that cats record. What’s even more critical to cats is knowing who will not demand her attention.
Some cats imprint upon a regular visitor. This leaves the cat pining when you’re not around. That can make her even needier toward her human family.